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Car-Battery Welding 



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Car-Battery Welding 

Written By: Hackett 



f TOOLS: 

• Gloves (1) 

• Hammer (1) 

• Pliers (1) 

• Welding Electrodes (1) 

Standard amount is a 5 pound box, but a 
handful will do 

• Welding hood(1) 

• car batteries (3) 

• jumper cables (2) 



t> PARTS: 



scrap steel (1) 



SUMMARY 

Welding! Welding is a glorious, mystery-infused, thoroughly bad-ass way to stick things 
together. Welders move in their own cloud of mythos and danger - they are dirtier, tougher, 
and sexier than other kinds of makers, and the things they build are big and strong and hold 
our world together. Want to be a welder but have no money and less experience? This guide 
will help. 



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Car-Battery Welding 




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Car-Battery Welding 




Gather materials. Some of the 
things you need to buy, most of 
them you prob either have lying 
around or can borrow. 

• Gloves. Welding gloves would 
be nice, but any heavy, non- 
flammable gloves will do. 

• Jumper cables. You will need at 
least a couple of sets, or one set 
and some heavy-gauge wire to 
wire the batteries together. How 
heavy? Like, as thick as a 
jumper cable. 

• Welding helmet. Cute little 
steampunk-y goggles will not cut 
it. Arc welding dumps out a ton 
of UV. All exposed skin will get a 
deep, horrific sunburn. A cheap 
welding helmet will work almost 
as well as a fancy one. 

• Three car batteries. Smaller 
batteries (like ATV, golf cart, 
motorcycle) will work as well. 
What you need is a total of 30- 
36 volts. The more amp hours 
(usually, the larger the battery, 
the higher the hours), the longer 
you will be able to weld. 

• Hammer. For chipping slag- a 
welding chip hammer is best, but 
a normal claw hammer will work. 
A rock works, too. 

• Steel to weld. If it rusts, it's 
steel. 

• Welding electrodes, or rods. 



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Car-Battery Welding 



Steel rods, covered in flux. To 
make your own would be 
hardcore DIY and a waste of 
time. You can buy welding rods 
anywhere in the world. Get a box 
of 6010 or 6011 1/8 inch 
electrodes. 5 pounds will set you 
back $20, max. You can also 
beg a handful off of any welding 
shop. The number code refers to 
the strength of the electrode, the 
chemical composition of the flux, 
and the positions you can weld 
in. Interesting stuff, but kind of 
beyond the purview of this. For 
more info go here . 





The batteries need to be wired in 
series: First wire the positive of 
one to the negative of the next. 



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Car-Battery Welding 





• And then, positive to negative 
again... 



Step 4 




Open positive gets clamped to the 
work. This is your ground clamp. 



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Car-Battery Welding 







Now you need an electrode holder. You will eventually want to buy one (I have seen them 
as cheap as $5 on Amazon) but with a little bending of the jumper cable clamp and a little 
scraping of the flux on the rod, you can make it fit. 

The key here is to make sure the electrode is secure in the clip and that there is as much 
surface contact as possible. A high-amp current is going through this connection, so make 
sure it is a good one. 



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Car-Battery Welding 





OK. It's time to connect the final lead. Grab the cable that is holding the electrode. Connect 
the other end to the lonely, bare battery terminal. It should be negative. If it is not, check 
your wiring! 

YOUR WELDER IS NOW HOT ("HOT" in the electrical way. Kind of sexy, too.) BE 
CAREFUL WHERE YOU PUT THE ELECTRODE. Make sure the electrode is not 
touching the ground cable, or anything that is conducting to the ground cable, like the 
work, a metal welding table, salt water aquarium, etc. Put it somewhere safe. 







Get things safe: secure your 
work area. Arc welding can 
shoot out a lot of really hot sparks, 
so you want to cover the batteries 
with something non-flammable. I 
used a leather apron. A jacket, 
welding blanket, sheets of plywood, 
or a coffee table will work as well. 



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Car-Battery Welding 




Set up your metal for your first weld. You can use clamps or a vise. The important thing is 
that all parts you want to weld together are conducting to one another and to the ground 
clamp. 



Remember to gear up: Wear gloves, rated welding helmet, non-flammable clothing. 
Make sure ALL exposed skin is covered. 



* 



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Car-Battery Welding 




Ready? Ready? Time to strike an arc. Hold the electrode holder/electrode in your dominant 
hand, in a way that is secure and comfortable. Play around a little until you find a grip that 
seems like it will work. You want control and a firm grip. 

Strike an arc, like you would strike a match. Sweep the tip of the electrode against the 
work firmly, in a short arc. Like a match, it should flare up. Like a match, it could take 
multiple tries. 

When you do strike your first arc it can scare the @!%% out of you. Your first impulse wi 
be to get away from the hot sparking thing. With practice, you can crush that impulse into 
a little ball. 

After you strike the arc, practice until you can get the tip of the electrode to stop about an 
eighth of an inch from the work. The arc should be maintained, melting the elecrode and 
the metal beneath it. 

Arc struck, hover for a moment where you want to start your weld. You should see a 
puddle of molten metal at the focus of the arc. This will be your first tack weld. 



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Car-Battery Welding 



Step 10 




• Do the same again at the other end of the weld. 

• Welding dumps a whole lot of heat into the metal. Metals expand when heated. If you align 
a couple of pieces of metal perfectly and do not secure them, they will have spread a 
considerable distance after a little bit of welding. 

• These little welds, or "tacks," will hold the metal together as you weld. In general, you 
should put in a tack at the beginning and end of where you will be running a weld, and 
every six inches or so in between. This varies, of course, depending on the material 
thickness, heat of weld, and a whole lot of other things that experience and good 
references will teach you. Do not worry about that now. 



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Car-Battery Welding 



Step 11 




• Your tacks will be covered with a weird, glassy substance. This is slag. As the electrode is 
heated, the flux on the outside of the rod boils away, spewing out a shielding gas that 
pushes away air, saving the hot metal from oxidation. (Otherwise, the weld would be a 
spongy, porous wad of speed rust.) In addition, the slag forms a protective layer over the 
weld. You need to clean the slag off to see your weld. 

• Whack at the slag with a hammer. It is brittle stuff, so even a glancing blow will break it 
off. 

• Any hammer or hammer-like thing will do, but a welding chip hammer is the right tool for 
this job. 

• Be careful - little chips of hot slag in your eye is about as pleasant as it sounds. 




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Car-Battery Welding 



Step 12 




One problem with car-battery welding is that there is no way to control the amperage. If 
your rods are too thin, they will basically evaporate and you will get a shallow, crappy 
weld. 

A quick and dirty way to solve this is to use a thicker rod (that's what she said). If you do 
not have thicker rods, make one by wiring two rods together. Baling wire works. A little bit 
of bare copper wire works better. 



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Car-Battery Welding 



Step 13 




• Another option is to use one rod to melt the metal, and another to fill the puddle. This is not 
a beginner move, but will work well after you have some experience. 

• Just whack another rod with a hammer to get most of the flux off. Weld with one hand, fill 
with the other. This method works well when you are welding thinner metals that you would 
otherwise burn through. 



Step 14 






• Oh crap! My electrode's stuck! This happens all the time when you are learning to arc 
weld. The electrode sticks, and if you cannot pop it free, it completes the circuit without 
throwing an arc. 

• The heat is still there, and the electrode gets red hot. The flux will probably burst into 
flames. 

• If/when this happens, break the circuit by releasing the electrode from the clamp. When it 
cools a little, pop it off with pliers or a hammer. Toss the electrode, or use it as filler rod. 



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Car-Battery Welding 



Step 15 




If things seem to be working, strike an arc, then make a puddle of molten metal. Push the 
rod in a little to fill the melt pool, them move forward a little (like half the diameter of the 
weld pool) and repeat. Imagine that you are making a red-hot stack of dimes. 

You are welding! This is the weld I got with this rig. It is not pretty, but it is solid. Play 
around with it as much as you can - speed, hand position, depth of penetration. The 
mechanics of welding are pretty easy, but like anything worthwhile, getting good takes time 
and practice. 



Photography by Becky Stern. 



This document was last generated on 201 2-1 0-31 1 0:26:25 PM. 



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